Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The War Within

"[H]ope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."--Stephen King

"A cynic is a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, and not as they ought to be."
--Ambrose Bierce

"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge -- myth is more potent than history -- dreams are more powerful than facts -- hope always triumphs over experience -- laughter is the cure for grief -- love is stronger than death."--Robert Fulghum

"Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man."--Frederich Nietzsche

A war rages within me, and has for nearly two decades. Indeed, it's getting worse. I value stability over all else and seek to model that to the world, not always successfully. But I imagine few who meet me have the slightest clue there are wondrous and monstrous forces arrayed just behind my forehead, firing barbs back and forth, gaining and losing cranial space.

"Smite the defeatist!" screams General Hope, urging his troops over the top in the face of impossible odds (he doesn't know they're impossible, of course: to him, there's no such word). The General's a startlingly young man with a piercing gaze and a voice that carries. He sees silver linings in every cloud and death doesn't faze him. His men revere him.

"Oh, open your goddamn eyes, you naive feckless good-for-nothing asswipe!" calls Commander Cynic. The Commander is a grizzled veteran of every war that ever was. Profanity is his stock in trade: his life's motto is "fuck 'em before they fuck me". His men are terrified of him...which is just how he likes it. Death doesn't bother him, either...probably because he's been dead since he was a kid.

And then the battle's on again. Every glance at a newspaper provides a cache of ammunition for the forces of cynicism. Hope's weaponry comes from somewhere more ephemeral: a snatched dream, a longing gaze, a simple smile...but is no less potent.

The General and the Commander see Barack Obama campaigning in the United States. Cynic mutters to himself: he's seen this before. He's seen everything before, there's nothing new under the sun, and nothing good can come of it. "The Audacity of Hope?" thinks Cynic. Audacity, yeah, right. A little thing called 'reality' will wipe that audacity right off his face. Somebody's gonna assassinate that it homemade cross-burning bigots or Islamic terrorists pissed off because he abandoned the One True Faith.
And that's if he even gets in. How much you wanna bet ol' Bushie will engineer a security crisis sometime between now and November? Maybe not a full-scale terrorist attack (though, thinks Cynic, I wouldn't put one past that douchebag)...maybe just a ratcheting up of tension between Washington and Tehran. They've been laying that groundwork for a long time: anyone with eyes can see it. 'Course, those Yankee sheep don't have eyes, not with Fox News guarding the henhouse. Fucking sheep.

Hope marshals his forces. Look! he shouts. The youth are turning out in hordes and in droves: they believe! The General never saw a situation he couldn't turn to his advantage, because he believes every moment is new, an opportunity for change. Nothing and no one is beyond redemption: it's never too late. Choose again! Hope yells. What kind of world do you want, for yourself and for others? It's your choice! Always and forever your choice!

The Commander scoffs to himself. Stupid, stupid, stupid. CUT THE BULLSHIT! he roars, and his men cower. Choice, my ass. All your choices are made for you. If you think otherwise, you're a sucker. You think those poor assholes in Myanmar chose that cyclone? "Oh, Nargas, come kill us!" Yeah, right.

Hope called back, The choice is ours, now. How do we respond? We can remove that military junta blocking all the aid from getting through if we choose to. It wouldn't take much. Maybe just a fraction of the military force strutting around Iraq. Then we could work together to rebuild the area and make lives better for the Burmese.

We could do all that, but we won't, says Cynic. It costs money, for one thing. MY money. MINE. And frankly, why the hell should we care? The world needs a few less people in it sucking up all the resources. I mean, shit, I don't even have enough. Why the fuck should I care about a bunch of strangers on the other side of the w--

How much is enough? interrupts Hope.

All of it, says Cynic, as if the answer was obvious. To him, it is.

A stranger is a friend you haven't met yet, says Hope, and Cynic rolls his eyes. Besides, he continues, there is enough. It's pure illusion that there isn't. All it takes is a slight reallocation...

--yeah, right out of my pocket! says the Commander.

Hope continues as if Cynic hadn't said anything. A slight readjustment of priorities, a change in attitude from "how do I win" to "how can everybody win". It's in the world's self-interest to act this way, you know. You'll see that when you grow up a little.

Fuck off, says the Commander. I was old when you were young, sonny-boy. "Grow up a little"? YOU grow up, you little twerp!

I'm not judging you, says Hope, calmly. I'm just saying, your perspective is narrow: you don't look past yourself. At your stage of development that's perfectly normal. Someday I know you'll understand that what affects one affects all, because we're all one.

The Commander laughs derisively. New Age crap, now, really.

You want I should express it in Christian terms? says Hope. Okay. Matthew 25:4o: "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Why do you think the Golden Rule is ubiquitous?

Because, laughs Cynic, he who has the gold makes the rules. It's always been like that.

Ah, but there's gold in everyone, says Hope. Even you. There's hope for you yet.

The white flag goes up as I go to bed, only to be ripped to shreds the next day as another battle breaks out. Will it ever end? I can only hope.


Rocketstar said...

It will never end...

Anonymous said...


Good luck?

Awesome post though!